Bath salt addiction & abuse
While bath salts originated in the 1920s, they remained relatively obscure until the past decade. They are sought after as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to stimulants like amphetamine, cocaine and MDMA. While regulations to curb the sale of bath salts have been enacted in recent years, production and abuse continue.
Learn more below about these drugs, their dangerous effects, and how to help those who may be struggling with bath salt addiction.
What are bath salts?
Bath salts is the name for a class of drugs known as synthetic cathinones, including methylone, mephedrone, and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). These manufactured substances are chemically similar to cathinone, a stimulant derived from the khat plant. However, while natural cathinone is relatively mild, these synthetic variations can be significantly stronger and have dangerous side effects.
The term “bath salts” comes from their sometimes being sold disguised as true bath salts, due to their granular or crystalline appearance. They are also sometimes marketed as “phone screen cleaner,” “jewelry cleaner,” or “plant food.” Bath salts are sold under a number of street names, including Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, Cloud Nine, and Bliss.
Effects of bath salts
Bath salts affect the brain similarly to other stimulants, although they are less well studied.They increase levels of pleasure and reward chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine to create an excited and euphoric state. However, because other substances are sometimes included or substituted during production, bath salt use may have unpredictable or dangerous symptoms.
- Dilated pupils
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased sex drive
- Reduced need for eating or sleep
- Increased temperature or chills
- Chest pain
- Kidney pain
- Delusions or confusion
- Lowered inhibition and increased sociability
- Agitated or aggressive behavior
Signs of abuse
Prolonged or extreme use can not only worse the primary effects of bath salt use but create dangerous new health risks. In addition to the effects mentioned above, signs of abuse may include:
- Breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue
- Kidney failure
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disturbances
- Twitching and involuntary muscle movement
- Suicidal thoughts
Synthetic cathinones can be highly addictive, creating intense cravings and building dependence quickly. In addition to lingering physical and psychological effects from regular use, those looking to cease use of bath salts have reported strong withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Decreased ability to remember or concentrate
Treatment and therapies
Professional treatment for bath salts addiction involves treating addiction symptoms while building the foundation for long-term recovery. The steps to treat bath salt dependence include:
Those beginning rehab for synthetic cathinones may require detox. This step involves safely managing withdrawal symptoms as the drug is processed out of the body. Detox activities typically include:
- Assisting with withdrawal symptoms
- Medication treatments for cravings, pain and discomfort
- Nutrition to support healthy detox
- Medical monitoring
Those beginning inpatient therapy have progressed through the majority of detox treatment. During this stage of treatment, patients continue to have guided management of their symptom while starting to build skills for long-term recovery. Residential services include:
- Managing drug cravings
- Individual and group therapy sessions.
- Professionally supervised medication treatment
- Fitness and nutrition therapy
- Introduction to support programs
- Life skills classes
- Therapy for mental illness
When it is clinically and medically appropriate, patients will typically progress to a series of increasingly autonomous treatment programs, such as:
- Partial Hospitalization Programs
- Outpatient Programs
- Aftercare support groups, meetings, and classes
- Sober housing and other transitional opportunities
Getting treatment for your loved one
Overcoming bath salt addiction is possible. With expert care, The Recovery Village can develop a course of treatment to put you on the path to recovery. Contact us today to help you get started.